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Prospects and clients want to know you understand them. Bombarding them with stock answers or over the top marketing can come across as tone deaf. Instead, make sure you are connecting with clients on an emotional level.

When clients are researching for the perfect lawyer to represent them, they analyze your firm’s online content and interactions at the first consultation. If you and your team do not connect to the client on an emotional level, the client will continue to shop for a lawyer. To understand how to gain more clients, referrals, and make your law firm’s messaging stand out, you must master the art of connecting with clients on an emotional level.

Many lawyers know how to be sincere, genuine, and engage the right emotions in front of a jury. But if they do not use these same techniques when a client calls in or visits for the initial consultation – and train support staff in the same skills – clients can start to drop off and impact your bottom line.

For law firms that have been entrenched in relating to clients through facts and laws, it can be a wakeup call when the telephone stops ringing and email inquiries are nonexistent. A seminal business book Broken Windows, Broken Business: How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards shows how businesses that address operational failures (the “broken windows”) can turn around clients from fleeing their organization. Constant attention to satisfying prospects and clients takes a concerted effort. So if the rainmaker lawyer or staff at your firm are using the wrong emotions to connect with clients, it is time to stop thinking about what you think is right and focus on what the client is experiencing and what they really want and need from an attorney.

In tough economic times, it is wise for lawyers to look outside their industry for inspiration. In sales, emotional selling gives an edge to help win clients away from the competition. Emotional selling is infused in the words chosen for your website and blog, and in the conversations you have with each prospect. Emotional selling uses a different part of your brain than what is used to research the law, create a brief, and negotiate with the opposing party. So the first step is to realize which hat you are wearing when meeting with a client for the first time. A new client is more apt to enlist (“buy”) your legal services when you use the following emotional strategies.

Talk to the prospect like a family member.

Use everyday language, not all the fancy terms you know after years of winning cases, and empathy to engage an individual. Scripted answers and rehashing your firm’s procedures on cases like this too soon can make a person feel like they are just a number. Steer clear of trying to be too friendly or phony, as that can be just as destructive to winning new business.

Listen more than talk.

Asking probing questions and then giving the client time to answer shows you care about the person’s situation. The individual will value that you have taken the time to get to know who they are, what problem needs to be solved, and what is important to them. Take notes of their key words and use these later on in the conversation as it will make the person feel that you get them.

Create a mental picture of how you will help the individual create a better ____ for him or her.

In the blank, insert better business, health, marriage, financial livelihood, or whatever practice area you specialize in. Because at the end of the day, this is what a good lawyer is all about. You know how to navigate the maze of laws and personalities in a dispute to create a better tomorrow for your client. Failing to mention this early on can leave a prospect feeling empty handed.

The art of creating a mental picture for your client is to use words and stories that demonstrate how you can get them positive results. It is still important to not overpromise results, so use examples from successful cases (no names are needed) to convey truthful outcomes that will interest the individual. Injecting warmth and energy into how you tell the story will show the client that you are great at representing people too. Some attorneys might fear that getting too animated might make them appear unprofessional. As long as you remain courteous, composed, and do not flail about the room, using emotional words can only help trigger new clients to connect with you. You also do not have to go on for hours with anecdotes – simple and brief examples can mean all the difference to reassure the client that you are the go-to lawyer for their concerns.

Lawyers who really master these techniques will infuse their examples with language the client used during the question and listening part of the consultation. From here, the lawyer will know how to tailor their conversation to different personalities. Clients who are coming in for a personal injury case are far different than business transaction cases, so knowing how to mirror different types of clients is key. Think of yourself as a diplomat and blank canvas that becomes filled as a client reveals their hot buttons.

All of these strategies help an attorney leverage the firm’s strong points. Whether online or in person, these emotion-based messages propel clients to learn more about the firm, like how you solve a problem, and trust you with their legal matter. Extending this empathy and commitment to customer service as a case gets underway is then critical for your staff to embody. Support staff, from paralegals to scheduling secretaries, is critical to keeping a client happy during the case. Making sure their mindset and conversations are filled with genuine empathy, problem solving skills, and attention to customer service will make a client appreciative of your firm.

During and after the legal matter is resolved, the client will remember how you connected with them in a positive way and mastered their legal problem. This is the turning point when a client becomes a raving fan. In turn, they mention you to colleagues and family members. They are compelled to like your firm on social media or leave a glowing review on Google Places. And in time, your client relationships will increase in their quality and quantity. Competing firms and the media will start to take notice as your business is doing what is better for the client and the firm’s longevity.

About Author

Krystina Steffen is a former contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.

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